August Valenti wrote:
Now we're talking! Thanks for your lengthy and thoughtful reply. I have no compunctions about practicing aikido, studying Taoist or Buddhists scripture, or the like. I wondered how others, who share my faith, felt about aikido. I have read marvelous books about the spirituality of aikido and the nature of ki (see particularly Gleason Sensei's book on the spiritual roots of aikido). Without sounding too much like a dilettante, I have a deep interest in physics and mathematics so your take on ki as a Catholic physicist would be MOST welcome.
If only I were a Cardinal and a Shihan, I would rule this thread!
I discuss this sort of thing with my sempai/sensei Mark all the time (he is a Catholic psychologist) here at our local dojo. Aikido is nicely integrated into both of our personal faiths. Whether it is viewed as transforming id into superego, or the practice of being a quality human being on the road to self actualization, Jesus seemed to wise to have a problem with it (and I wouldn't be afraid to set him straight if he did). To me, one of the benefits of being Catholic is the option of acting out of respect for creation (note that I'm not a creationist or even a true intelligent designer), not just fear of reprisal. So the question becomes, how to act. How do I love my neighbor when my neighbor is swinging a broken bottle at my face? How do I love my wife when she is armed with a carving knife? It might be time to talk about aiki.
I've suggested before (I'm not claiming to be the first) that ki doesn't need to exist as anything other that a physical mnemonic to work. One might say that there are plenty of things that can't be seen, but are still agreed to exist. If ki can be "felt", then it should be quantifiable and its use repeatable and measurable. I don't know how to do that and I've never heard of someone with a metric to do so (as a physicist, I'm always open to being proved wrong though). What I do know from experience is that martial action that is consistent with the concept of ki usage is more effective.
For example, if I tell an archer to think of a tiny rubber band attaching the tip of the arrow to the spot or ki flowing out of the tip and into the target, that sounds like a useful mnemonic. If I tell the archer to think of the arrow as a dead duck weighted by a heavy brick and the bull's eye as a tiny port hole on a distant ship out on ruff seas, I doubt it would be as instinctively helpful.
Thus my views about a person's soul. I don't know of a way to prove there physically
is such a thing, but that doesn't mean acting consistent with the concept of having one isn't useful in quickly explaining decision making that is consistent with a lawful good social order.
I'm much more evangelical about aikido (and physics) than I am about Christianity. Perhaps it is because of the narrower scope that I can have more confidence in the benefits. Perhaps it is because I like newer good ideas over older good ideas. Beautiful things often tarnish with time. I do like that Catholicism centers on actions ultimately speaking louder than intentions or beliefs.
So if aikido makes someone healthier, happier or safer. Those are things that will ripple outward through society.
August Valenti wrote:
I would like this thread to elevate
the discussion among Christians practicing aikido and avoid some of the doctrinal squabbling (it is impossible to eliminate all of it; even the apostles did not always agree) that foolishly divides us. Surely our love of Christ and aikido unites us.
I would like to think so. Humans are a bit resistant (sometimes rightly so) to a "universal" anything. Christianity has broken up. Aikido is broken up. Islam and Judaism are broken up. Everyone thinks that they have the answers. I hope it continues to sort itself out. In the interim, come not between a man an his jealous love for his god.
August, do you have any Valenti relatives in Ishpeming, MI? I sometimes train with a Mark Valenti (different from the earlier mentioned Mark C-O).
Does anyone else find it funny that I called for C.A.L.'s to step forward 1st and guess who volunteered? Good old R.B., doesn't qualify on any account. I guess I wasn't taken seriously. Shouldn't have been a surprised. I don't even take me seriously, or my own advise it seems.
Peace in, not a word to your mother,